What Has Been Achieved in 25 Years of Peace Negotiations?

In gist, the CARHRIHL states that both parties shall adhere to and be bound by the principles and standards embodied in international instruments on human rights. The agreement also “seeks to confront, remedy and prevent the most serious human rights violations in terms of civil and political rights, as well as to uphold, protect and promote the full scope of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Other important provisions of the CARHRIHL include the GPH’s indemnification of martial-law victims, the repeal of repressive laws, decrees and issuances and a review on jurisprudence on warrantless arrest, among others. Unfortunately, none has been done so far in relation to these provisions.

The CARHRIHL also adopts provisions on generally accepted principles and standards of international humanitarian law.

The agreement also states the formation of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) that shall monitor the implementation of the CARHRIHL. The JMC was formed only in April 2004 and has not reconvened since then. Complaints have been filed against each party since then but the GPH has refused to reconvene the JMC to discuss alleged violations of both parties of the CARHRIHL.

After the ouster of President Joseph Estrada in 2001, the GPH under Arroyo resumed formal peace talks with the NDFP in April that same year.

The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States had an impact on the peace talks. As part of its supposed global war on terror, the United States State Department designated in August 2002 the CPP, the NPA and Jose Maria Sison, who serves as chief political consultant of the NDFP in the negotiations, as terrorists or terrorist organizations. The Council of the European Union and other states followed suit. Then Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas F. Ople admitted that a “special team” that he headed campaigned for the inclusion of CPP, NPA and Sison in the terror lists of the European member states.

In January 2003, the GPH offered the so-called Final Peace Accord (FPA) with the NDFP.  The 29-page FPA specifically asks the NDFP to submit a roster of NPA guerillas and an inventory of firearms and demobilize the NPA within six months. The NDFP viewed the FPA as move to force the NDFP into capitulation. It also said that the accord is in violation of the Hague Joint Declaration, which states that disposition of forces — which was in effect what the government wanted to achieve —  is the last agenda to be taken up in the negotiations.

In February and April 2004, two joint statements were issued in Oslo, Norway. Both parties reaffirmed the Hague Joint Declaration, the Jasig, the CARHRIHL and seven other agreements. The GPH agreed to “take effective measures” to resolve the issue of terrorist listing in order to advance the peace talks.

Upon arriving in Manila, though, the GPH, through presidential adviser on the peace process Secretary Teresita Deles, insisted that the inclusion of the CPP, NPA and Sison in foreign terror lists were “sovereign acts of these states, independent of the GRP disposition regarding these matters.” NDFP peace panel chairman Luis Jalandoni reacted by saying Deles’s statements smacked of “treachery, malice and deception.”

Just the same, both parties agreed to accelerate the work of the respective reciprocal working committees (RWCs) for the socio-economic reforms agenda.

The Oslo agreements also called for the indemnification of victims of human-rights violations under the Marcos regime: the segregation of US$150 million or at least PhP8 billion from the recovered Marcos ill-gotten wealth to compensate the victims, and for the GPH to exert its utmost initiative to obtain passage of an administration bill for the compensation of martial-law victims of human-rights violations.

Up to now, however, no compensation has been given to the victims and the compensation bill has not been passed.

In August 2005, the talks collapsed after the GPH refused to abide by previously signed agreements and insisted on an indefinite ceasefire as a precondition for any resumption. The NDFP said this was  a violation of the Hague Joint Declaration.

It is interesting to note that not a single agreement was signed by both panels in the nine years of the Arroyo administration. The Arroyo regime instead opted for a militarist solution to the armed conflict with the implementation of the counterinsurgency programs Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and 2. The CPP, on the other hand, declared these programs a failure.

Would the GPH, under the new Aquino administration, abide by the previously signed agreements? The first Joint Communique seems promising but it remains to be seen whether the GPH would make true on these prior commitments. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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